A very happy ‘World Poetry Day’ to all my friends and fellow poets: Sharing these lines yet again…that I’d written when I had first started to write poetry in 2007/08…to understand and then define what poetry meant to me personally. And here, depicted in this photo, in the December of 2016, I had found the most relevant audience – an entire English department of Stella Maris College – Chennai, a very reputed college, to share this and other wisdom with. ☺️ These, below were my opening lines at the poetry reading at Stella Maris College – as part of the Prakriti International Poetry Festival, Chennai.
A propelling word, and then a few lines – Spurting compelling thoughts in my mind; I first mark them down at the nick of time, Lest they involuntarily leave me behind.
These lines delve into a maze of thoughts That chase unconscious, unravelled tracks: I then let myself get lost in their troughs – They lead to my core, on to veiled grasslands.
I’m surprised by the intricacy of my soul Whose thoughts I unconsciously abhorred, Yet it was that momentous fleeing thought That has led me to myself – otherwise lost.
From deep within the fissures of my mind – A well of experience, emotions, wisdom arises: Infusing a repertoire of words I’ve imbibed – A poignant, myriad kaleidoscope I inscribe.
— Shuvashree Chowdhury
Please scroll down through the posts here or visit my Facebook author page Across Borders for details on my poetry books, novels and one of short fiction.
On Wold Poetrt Day today, sharing two of my simple poems on Darjeeling – the Queen of hill-stations, both incidentally written in April – one in 2016 and the other in 2019. And among many others on Darjeeling and Kalimpong along with Bananas, Shantiniketan and more on Bengal, they are in my latest poetry book “Trouvailles: my moments of Yugen” – details in an earlier post.
☺️As everything I write about, is sincerely and dedicatedly observed, researched and then deeply thought about, sharing just a few of the best photos from my Darjeeling Diary, after the Banaras Diary (I have one photo diary of other places in the books) in the previous posts, in this link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154183427069974&type=3
A thick carpet of auburn-green pines, tilting to the right as sentinels of the night – swayed ever so slight in sensual delight in serenading grey waves guiding my drive.
The ashen sea, a glinting bed of charcoal – with a midday Sun fuelling its glittering sheath: on it waves as boats on canvas, bob prominently as if in an exhibition of oil paintings of galaxies.
A smooth metal highway runs with the breeze, past coloured shrines embodying Tamil pride – with colourful deities startling from their edifices the clustered crucifixes identifying souls apart.
It’s a Chennai Saturday morning, in late February when we’ve set out on this drive to Pondicherry – a favourite weekend trip to this Union Territory retaining essences of an erstwhile French Colony.
A heritage bed-and-breakfast motel we check into with its bright yellow facade, French style woodwork – with a balustrade balcony, cane-blinds and fixtures; in White Town, near the sea and Aurobindo ashram.
This coastal town, reminiscent of my boarding school, in Chandannagar – a riverside erstwhile French enclave shapes my rootedness, cultural tastes, and attitudes – in upholding historical culture, with progressive views.
2. Saturday Night Fever: at “Rendezvous”
Red and black are the colours of the balmy night – attired as they’re in a svelte red dress and black suit: the young female vocalist alongside a male violinist, serenading us with multilingual, modern and old tunes.
It’s a breezy rooftop cafe, twinkling with fairy lights twirled around railings separating the promenade at night, from which a musky seaside smell permeates the air – aromatic flowers infused with light drizzle, a cocktail create.
There’s a charming, old fashioned gaiety in the air as young and old enthusiastically whisper their requests – to the violinist prancing table to table to fetch them, strumming with dramatic moves to amuse little children.
There are tables lining the railing, dotting the terrace – it’s top is covered, the sides allow a spectacular sea view: vases; square lanternlike candle stands adorn tables, flushing faces, fluttering hearts of several young couples.
I’ve been here twice before, both times for lunch, but this trip to Pondicherry is far from what I envisioned as we’re here in Chennai on work – that’s not fun, and this was a getaway to soothe our wreaked nerves.
The candle only on our table isn’t lit, making me panick – is this a sign from god our stiff goal won’t be achieved: but I extinguish negative thoughts, breathe from light within: Such an evening, has to be a gift of hope of new beginnings!
3. “Savouring my Solitude”
An odd time it was – I strolled the handosme promenade, four pm is too early for a cool breeze let alone sunset – but after a night and an all morning out-of-season deluge I just had to find my way outside in the sun or stifle indoors.
Watching the rain all morning batter the exquisite greenery, through cane blinds, past French doors, windows – it’s a luxury: but after noon the sun shone bright and dazzled my eyesight – I realised it was a shame to be couped indoors in Pondicherry.
I set out to fetch oranges, coconut water – near the temple gates, inspired by the guest house fetching us idlis and iddiyyapam – after I asked for breakfast in the room once they’d served coffee, though since Covid lockdown, they didn’t have provision for meals.
But the cobbled streets of White Town lured my steps beachward, on sidewalks by French architecture, blooming pink-red bougainvillea: even though my companion in the room wasn’t up to venturing out – a charming walk drawn by the smell of sea and rain I couldn’t resist.
The broad stately promenade was sunny, scorching hot now, as I walked down in the shade of the buildings, viewing the waves: a few like me had ventured out – why waste a Sunday afternoon when rains might return, wash out a sunset and evening’s pleasures .
A view I gauged from Aura cafe, made me take a seafacing seat, to order a mixed vegetable sandwich with coffee, to drink the sights in, but balloons of packeted pink candy floss riding pillion on a bicycle – drew me to groups taking selfies, their backs to jaws of dragon waves.
My troubles now came rushing up with waves spitting fire, to swallow me – yet nutritious solitude I savoured with each caramel cappuccino sip, conscious, the world is unconcerned with the whirlwind I’m caught in: thus strength I have to garner from deep within, to resuscitate my soul.
…wrote an initial hurried draft today for Women’s Day tomorrow…will add more to this and edit along the way.😌
The Sea and I, have a Spiritual connection☺️: I’ve always loved the mountains and preferred it to the sea when choosing a vacation. But it was the sea, this one precisely – that churned the depth and profundity in me and made me a poet. And most of my early poems are on the sea – between Chennai to Pondicherry, whatever the emotions I’ve woven into and around them. Little did I know that the sky at dusk yesterday – would reflect my colours back to me – ones I’d found in the grey sea. 😜
“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” — Albert Camus (French author, journalist and philosopher)
I have been sharing so many photos of Chennai, after writing three books on various aspects of the city – in poetry, short fiction and a whole novel. As I happened to live in Chennai when I started to write and then lived and wrote in Chennai for another twelve years. So it is only natural that Chennai would feature in my thought process as a literary fiction writer.
In the year 2015, when we still lived in Chennai, at the Kolkata book fair I attended a session on Indian Cities, in which Bishwanath was also in the panel, talking on Calcutta – the city he had just released his book on about six months or so before. In this panel, also was a known poet, danseuse and writer from Chennai who had just released her non fiction book on Chennai. There were authors talking on Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi too. Now to the Chennai author’s resigned dismay and my utter shock, there were books of all the panelists on display and sale outside the venue but hers. So I voiced my disappointment, to which she spontaneously replied, “Books on Chennai are not stocked as they apparently don’t sell and even publishers are resistant to taking them on.” By this time I had written the early chapters of my novel ‘Entwined Lives’ which had Chennai as it’s primary location in addition to Mumbai. So I was indeed very disappointed by a Chennai writer telling me this so blatantly. I thought about this issue for a while, and the possibility of just changing the location – as it was still a very early stage of the novel and the plot was anyway pertinent to any big Indian city.
But I promptly reminded myself exactly why I was writing a novel on Chennai – it was to do my little bit in giving back to the city that had made me a writer and accepted what I had to say. With several people including leading chronicler of Chennai Mr Muthiah giving me so much personal support for my debut book. And a local corporate house sponsoring my debut book’s launch at the Taj over a Madras Book club event, even though this book was about the two Bengals. The TOI covered this launch in Page 3 as “An evening to remember.” Then there were so many people in Cennnai, who supported me through my early stages as a writer, starting out with as a blogger.
I decided to go ahead, writing this novel on Chennai, with my sense of integrity spearheading my decision – also thereby becoming bolder in the challenge I had taken up, to write it in the backdrop of the print media industry.
Chennai is a city of intriguing contrasts. And married to a senior journalist and working as a senior executive search consultant with a reputed international head hunting firm, I weaved my years of experiences into this novel which is my 4th book. The book is available globally on all online book sales platforms in print and several digital formats.
It was like telling myself – publishers won’t take me on, newspapers who had very generously written about and covered my debut book and interviewed me, wouldn’t publically touch it with a barge pole. So I was in this all on my own!
But it’s been two years now since I released this book and I don’t regret my decision to stand up and set myself free from the bondage of close minded, judgmental attitudes. Also I just do not see the sense in having a market driven book – that sales and marketing departments find so easy to shove around to non thinking minds.
In my two decades of corporate experiences I have never come across such easy lives as attributed to those of the Indian publishing industry. As instead of devising means and schemes to market and sell a good and meaningful book – it’s just easy to keep shoving what people want readily, like an FMCG product – then why have a marketing department at all! People can just lead the market and buy books like 2 minute Maggi noodles – which may I remind those who are my age and thereabouts – was shoved into our palates in our school years – so much so that we developed a taste for it just like a child does to milk.
To add to this information on literature on Chennai not selling and in reiterating this view on easy selling driving a product(books) that ought to break mental barriers – I could not but help noticing – not a single copy of Bishwanath’s Tamarind City, an excellent book – though there were several copies of all his other books, at the book signing event last Saturday in a Calcutta store.
This is what true freedom means to me: Doing what my conscious and integrity goad me to do! What better day to share this with you than on Republic Day, that too – as I’m writing this post sitting in Chennai.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Vicktor Emil Frankl (Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist)
All my books are available globally in paperback and varied digital options on barnesandnoble.com ; kobo.com ; Amazon.com … please type individual countries, then the book title. The first four books are available in bookstores in India.
Anywhere in the world, including in India if you prefer just as I do, you may order your paperback and e-book versions of my books directly from the web link: https://www.thedogearsbookshop.com/…
Sharing the links, in addition to Amazon, for international and domestic sales — for the print and varied digital formats of my new poetry book — along with some photos below representing each of the places the book takes you to.
The Amazon and varied international listings are already processed and I will share the links as and when they go live. This book, unlike the previous, will not be available in stores for a while due to the pandemic situation. The listings here on The Dogears Bookshop are all international links and can be used to purchase all my five books, both in India and globally.
“Trouvailles: My moments of Yūgen” by Shuvashree Chowdhury
‘To Chance Encounters and Mysteries of the Universe’
Trouvaille (origin French) means a chance encounter with something wonderful, a windfall, a lucky find. Whether its stumbling across a hidden back street, discovering a quaint cafe, or connecting with a local during a journey — the joy they bring is what you call trouvaille. Yūgen (origin Japanese) is a profound and mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe and the sad beauty of human suffering — an awareness that triggers emotional responses too deep and powerful for words.
Trouvailles: My moments of Yūgen is Shuvashree Chowdhury’s second collection of poems. They are crafted from the physical and mental journeys she undertook to find herself. One moment she is navigating the ghats and galis of the holy city of Banaras; in another she is gazing at the mighty Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling and Kalimpong; one moment she is experiencing the calm of Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan; in another she is walking along the Hooghly in pastoral Bengal. Then there is travel — in the form of contemplation — undertaken during the Covid-forced lockdown.
The poems are not so much about the destinations, but a fresh way of looking at places we already knew about. They are an optimistic and positive reflection on life and death; love and relationships; resilience and rejection.
SHUVASHREE CHOWDHURY is the author of four works of literary fiction including novels Across Borders and Entwined Lives; a collection of short stories Existences; and a book of poems called Fragments. She spent over two decades in the corporate sector, in senior managerial capacities with top companies before turning a full-time writer. She lives in Kolkata.
One sultry evening during the lockdown, imposed on mankind by COVID-19, when one travelled mentally rather than physically, I chanced upon two words. I not only liked the sounds of them, but they also seemed to accurately describe the nature of my travels in the recent times — physical as well as in the form of contemplation — that resulted in the lines you will read in the following pages.
Trouvaille (origin French) means a chance encounter with something wonderful, a windfall, a lucky find. Whether its stumbling across a hidden back street, discovering a quaint cafe, or connecting with a local during a journey — the joy they bring is what you call trouvaille.
Yūgen (origin Japanese) is a profound and mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe and the sad beauty of human suffering — an awareness that triggers emotional responses too deep and powerful for words.
So there, that explains the title of this book.
I like to think of myself as an explorer of life, a seeker, and a creator of flow. I believe that it is only through flow that you find a connection to your genuine self and that you then begin to live fully. Thus, I have been on a poetic journey to self-awareness and inner healing, an ongoing journey to find and connect with my true purpose and authentic self.
After years of working in demanding corporate jobs, juggling work, family and relationships, I often found myself questioning why I was doing what I was doing, wondering if there wasn’t more to all of this, and if I was missing some bigger purpose. Unsettled by watching those around me live without flow, struggling to find their balance, happiness, and health, my journey as a literary fiction writer began in 2010.
Travel has been a big component of my explorations on the meaning of life — often converting to poetic expressions —in my sense of relating to my inner and outer world. Curiosity on one’s self is the gateway of understanding our own sufferings and blockages that hinder us from living our truth. Inner exploration can be a deep and life-changing experience.
Through these poems, I invite readers to journey with me, to find inner connections, harmony, and flow. My goal is in creating a safe cruise for one to explore and discover one’s inner peace, courage, strength, and ultimate potential. I hope to inspire and motivate people to live in a place of self-love and acceptance, thus inculcate the inner strength to never give up. In doing so, we can begin to find our inner peace while cultivating compassion in our outer interactions.
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” — Henry Miller
“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” — Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.
A brief on my first book of poems written since 2007, that started my inward journey, is below…
Fragments is Shuvashree Chowdhury’s debut collection of poetry. It is an intuitive journey into various aspects of the human experience — love, passion, jealousy, joy, spirituality, and death. The poems engage deeply with the world — turning each heartfelt moment in the hands like fragments of a broken mirror — to examine with keen intelligence, the light passing through the countless shards, towards self-realization. The poems convey insights with a perceptiveness that is at once brilliant and sumptuously lyrical, vivid, and kaleidoscopic, in a language that is elegant. The poetic journey gradually transcends into a serene, spiritually uplifting zenith — weaving its way upstream through the rocky riverbed of the spirit — the soul quivering, often crushing emotional currents.
Fifteen poems from Fragments, in a staged reading, were recited by veteran theatre artists of the reputed group — Madras Players — the oldest English language theatre group in India, in 2015 for their 60th year celebrations. The poet also read poems along with the actors. Alongside eminent international poets, she has read from her collection at important literary festivals, including ‘Poetry with Prakriti’ (Chennai) in 2016 at Stella Maris College, Madras Christian College, and several others. Two of the poems from this collection are also published in the Sahitya Academy anthology – ‘Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians’– selected and edited by Sudeep Sen. Recital of a poem from this collection, also won her the ‘Pride of India: Online Talent Hunt 2020: Winner, Poetry Competition’
Banaras & Spiritualty, not Religion: I found these writings below in the photos here, inscribed at a popular shrine, Lahiri Mahasaya’s Ashram – mostly visited and then frequented by westerners – in a narrow lane of Banaras which is a city that attracts all forms and varieties of art and creativity. These writings, will also give you an insight into the inspiration and working of my mind in writing this book which will soon be available globally in print and a variety of digital formats. The details of my inspirations for the book “Trouvailles: my Moments of Yugen” are in the link below:
The washed terrace of my home at seven – from last night’s tumultuous, steady rain that woke me up with its sharp thudding sound as if several women were pounding grain. . A fleet of chirping birds flew past overhead as if in withdrawing the blanket of night – that couldn’t see the trace of day through haze wrapped around Sun’s attempt to raise the world.
Yellow, pink, red Jaba flowers look in disdain – at each other’s crushed frames on slender stems that still stand erect in vehemence, looking up: defying the rain to pelt and crush their resilience.
The wet cemented floor, an exhibition of artwork, in water puddles seeping in cracks and crevices – each creation an enigma to read your desires as in a poem one weaves their own experiences.
A fleet of birds now settled on a nearby rooftop seem as a castoff blanket – of years of desire that has culminated into a soul crushing betrayal of hope, worshipped long as an icon of true love.
But beyond a dark haze of lethal painful rejection there’s the Sun fighting to reach out with a love that has also been banished and serially crushed by nights that are an epitome of beautiful delight.
Awake all night, in listening to the steady rain, after daylong reflection on painful circumstances, has cleansed a putrid souls debris to set it out on track, to resurrection for Sun to find this heart. — Shuvashree/
PS: just typed this first draft on my phone now, but sharing my mood as of this cloudy morning…while I await the ISBN on my new book of poems…please visit my facebook author page Across Borders and website from my bio☝️
“Poetry is the opening and the closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.” — Carl Sandburg
To New Beginnings: Nature’s prelude to Diwali…photos are of this morning!
A seamless blanket of fluffy white clouds – as of crocheted white patches of floating cotton: formed a gauze to swathe the wounded world, still aggrieved and suffering from the coronavirus.
A cool breeze kissed my face – a balm for souls, lavishly applied by fleets of birds, assuaging hurt from rejections, defeat, betrayals, loss of trust – also poverty, disease, or cyclones playing havoc.
Soft sunlight ushered in rays of benign hope, through sieves of formidable white gauze-clouds, as hibiscus, champa, myriad flowers bloomed to birds chirping – as loud bells at temple doors!
Inspiration: My new book of Poetry… Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.” — Khalil Gibran
My new book of poetry, that in almost every page depicts the above lines, had started out intending to be a compilation of poems only on the city of Banaras and I had planned to title it “Kashi Chronicles”…which was the working title all along. But in spite of my best intentions, due to the lockdown setting in just two days after my last trip to the city for my husband Bishwanath Ghosh’s book, ‘Aimless in Banaras’ in late March 2020 – I could not write more than twenty poems even after a few trips for the purpose …though several of the poems are longer story type narratives. As Poetry for me, comes from a deep well of truth and profundity, also simplicity – to convey the most complex ideas of my soul derived in the process of writing each piece even to a child if he wishes to read it.
So then, I sat and wrote about places like Shantiniketan, Darjeeling – Kanchenjunga, and Hoogly that I could club with my views and spiritual take on a book on Banaras, for reasons that would require one to read the book. And though I wanted to write several poems on Goa too for example – a place I loved, I did not envision clubbing these travels with Kashi.
My inspiration to write this book ‘Trouvailles…” whose blurb is in the 2nd last photo, was from attending the launch of a book of poetry on Varanasi by an established poet in late 2016. I had felt rather disappointed at the time, that in spite of the seniority and expertise in the craft of poetry, the city that had so much to impart on a deeply spiritual and cultural level, also a city steeped in rich Indian heritage, had been painted with little understanding or depth. However I humbly admit to my lack of experience in the so-called craft of poetry, as I’m a self taught poet who started at 35/36 years, but I can assure you confidently of the effort gone into the deep thoughts of each of the poems from almost 50 years of rich experiences, on life, death and well, everything else of importance in between.🤓 To me, good poetry is only and only what touches the soul and to that end comprehension is key. So I’m not at all insecure about anyone’s views of what comprises good or bad poetry. I just wish my words to touch your heart and soul.
So, read my poems just like you did back in school, with a sense of innocence and let my words find their way to your intellect only if they must, after your heart and soul are satiated…the book will be available globally very shortly in print and in ebooks in varied digital formats.
“One should be a painter. As a writer, I feel the beauty, which is almost entirely colour, very subtle, very changeable, running over my pen, as if you poured a large jug of champagne over a hairpin.” — Virginia Woolf, The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume Six, 1936-1941
It’s not just sunrises, sunsets, places, events and experiences – past and present that influence your poetry, but a lot has to do with what you’re currently reading – that channelises and leads your creativity and thinking. In the photos are two books that have inspired several poems in the last section of my new book that I happened to hand-write at this location, right after these visuals. Sharing the titles, so you’ll get the drift…
The book will be available globally in both print and all/varied digital platforms, in a couple of weeks at most. I invite you into the workings of my mind …🤓☺️ And by the way, wishing you a very happy Dhanteras that’s today and tomorrow, with all the shine and glitter of the golden Sun…and Diwali the day after!